The KittyHawk.
The KittyHawk.

The VX-1 KittyHawk™ is an aircraft designed by VX Aerospace with a unique shape that is structurally efficient. VX Aerospace uses C-Ply™ advanced composite reinforcement material from Chomarat for the aircraft.

The VX-1 KittyHawk has a unique shape, with no wings providing a reduced carbon footprint.

The fuselage and wings are combined into one shape called a 'lifting body' or 'blended wing' aircraft. The shape of the KittyHawk has numerous advantages over traditional designs. These include: greater useable internal volume, greater payload capability, better structural efficiency and durability, as well as ease of manufacture. The design will have fewer parts and therefore is easier to assemble. In addition, the aircraft can be scaled to accommodate the intended mission. Manned or unmanned, the VX-1 KittyHawk’s internal volume is claimed to be a big advantage. It will also have a smaller footprint than other aircraft when based on payload capability.

“The volume will also allow KittyHawk to lead the way in adopting CNG (compressed natural gas) as an aviation fuel. Existing technology CNG tanks fit inside the aircraft with no aerodynamic compromise. At less than one-third the cost of avgas, the KittyHawk will have unparalleled operational economy with emissions that are 40% cleaner.” says Bob Skillen, VX Aerospace’s CEO.

KittyHawk™ is the first VX Aerospace aircraft manufactured with C-Ply™ from Chomarat. C-Ply™ (prepregged with Cytec Industries’ resin system MTM® 45-1 to create a low density, high damage tolerant prepreg material) is the enabling material for VX Aerospace to use their hand lay-up and oven curing processes to achieve economically properties similar to autoclave cured UD (uni-directional) prepreg and automatically placed tape prepreg. Chomarat adds that the C-Ply™ material is durable to handle during lay-up, drapable to accommodate the compound curvatures, and can be manufactured to optimise fully the design relative to fibre angles and ply weights. This ultimately yields a low weight, high performance and low cost final solution.

“C-Ply™ is the first true advance in carbon fabrics in a long time, says Bob Skillen. It is designed to optimise fibre performance. Chomarat capitalised on the low-angle, thin ply, non-crimp laminate concept developed by Prof. Steve Tsai. The result is a fabric that allows for cost effective production of open mould parts with the same (or better) performance characteristics of ATP parts.